Abram's Land

When they built Dickinsfield in the 1980's, my Council colleague Dave Kirschner told me that they had to remove the trees and level out the land. They laid the fallen trees on land to the west and covered them up with the overburden. Thirty years along and generous grasses and scattered trees have risen up, providing a brief belt of green as you drive along Confederation Boulevard, just down the road from the massive snow dump site. This 99 acres of reclaimed forest is what they call Abram's Land, a spot that reminds us that disparate faith groups can come together in common purpose.

Abram's Land will eventually be home to three much-needed facilities of worship for the McMurray Gospel Assembly, St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Parish and Markaz Ul Islam. Our hope is that a long-term seniors care facility and a recreational complex to serve the citizens in this part of Fort McMurray will also one day rise up from the forest floor.

As we gathered together to watch Mayor Melissa Blake and Jerry Metz, Chair of Abram's Land, grab hold of the golden shovel to make the first turn of the sod, I was struck at the beauty and wonder of the moment. Much like the inherent nature of Fort McMurray, where cultural groups reside, not in geographical pockets but scattered in amongst each other, the Abram's Land development saw the coming together of strangers who are now friends.

Smiles were in abundance on this gorgeous November afternoon, unseasonably warm and strangely inviting. I'm not an overly religious person, but God was present on this day, wrapping his grace around his children, Muslims, Christians, Catholics, all. One day, in the not too distant future, families, whose roots reside all over the globe will meet in fellowship on Abram's Land and recall with fondness the moment of joy when the first soil was turned on this tremendous project.


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